Your pregnancy: 23 weeks

At this point in your baby's development, his skin is wrinkly, but his intrauterine wrinkles will disappear as he gains more weight.

Felt carrot used to show how big baby is at 23 weeks

Photo: Mandy Milks, Erik Putz, Anthony Swaneveld. Felt: thefeltstore.com

WHAT’S GOING ON IN THERE?
You made it to week 23! Your baby is now about the size of a carrot. By 23 weeks pregnant, the average fetus measures about 28 centimetres (11 inches) from head to toe and weighs about 500 grams (1.1 pounds). She is getting bigger and starting to look a lot more like a cute little baby!

YOUR SYMPTOMS
Varicose veins
If you’ve noticed bluish or purplish veins bulging under the skin on the backs of your legs, those are varicose veins. Unfortunately, they’re not just for old ladies. Varicose veins are caused by the growing weight of your uterus putting pressure on the veins in your lower body, combined with an increased volume of blood to support you and your baby. Plus, those hormones that help your pelvis relax to make room for a bulging uterus also cause your veins to dilate. (If they pop up in or around the rectum, those are hemorrhoids. Yes, eek!) Varicose veins tend to run in families (chances are, your mom had them, too) and, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent them. To keep them from getting worse, don’t stand for long periods without a break, avoid crossing your legs, and put your feet up as often as possible. Compression socks and tights can also help by boosting circulation in your legs. Fortunately, this is one pregnancy symptom that will diminish after delivery. 

The “dark line”
As we mentioned in week 19, you may be noticing a dark line in another spot, too: running down the middle of your tummy from your belly button to your pubic bone. Linea nigra is caused by the same pregnancy hormones that are triggering other skin discolourations you might be seeing, like the darker shade of your areolas or the freckles on your face, as well as on your arms and legs. You’re more likely to notice these skin changes if you have a darker complexion. But don’t worry: They will fade within a few months postpartum.

Braxton Hicks contractions
It’s a very strange sensation the first time you notice your belly suddenly feel super-tight—almost like a quick muscle spasm.  It may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s totally normal. Your muscles are just randomly contracting, almost in test mode for delivery. As long as they go away quickly, Braxton Hicks contractions are nothing to worry about. Just change positions and try these tips to stay as comfortable as possible until they pass. Call your practitioner if they don’t subside or become more intense.

Pregnant woman going for a run through the woodsRunning while pregnant is good for baby's heart: Study

ON YOUR MIND
Working it out
Wondering what kinds of workouts are safe at week 23 with a now-prominent belly? Generally, you should be fine to continue with most pre-pregnancy exercises with a few exceptions: Sports like horseback riding, scuba diving and anything that could involve an impact to your abdomen should be avoided. Certain yoga poses, such as twists and inversions, will need to be adapted, so switch to a prenatal class just to be safe. Swimming is also a great option now because the weightlessness you experience in the pool will feel wonderful. Keep doing laps on your own or sign up for a prenatal aquafit class designed for mamas-to-be. If you are bored with your usual workout and would like to try something new, we’ve got five pregnancy-safe exercises you can do at home—no gym required!  When it comes to prenatal exercise, the bottom line is that you should do what feels good, but talk to your practitioner if you have any questions.

JUST FOR KICKS
Go shopping
Have some fun dressing the bump—it’s almost like an accessory now. You’ll feel and look better in maternity clothes that are comfortable and fit your growing belly. You don’t need to head to an expensive maternity store, though; flowy tops and tunics in a larger size will do the trick, and capes, drape-y cardigans and blazers that can be left open will accommodate a growing bump. You may need to be fitted for a new bra, though. If you plan on breastfeeding, go right for the nursing bras, which can be worn now and postpartum. Maternity pants are also more comfortable than trying to squeeze into a regular waistband—even if it’s stretchy or a bigger size. A great pair of maternity jeans is a wise investment because they can be worn for the rest of your pregnancy and several months postpartum (or beyond!).

BABY NAMES
Still stuck on what to call your little bun in the oven once it pops out? Take some inspiration from Mother Nature with our list of nature-inspired baby names. Maybe you love going to the ocean on your vacations, or maybe you have a favourite flower or tree from your childhood.  Lots of words from nature make for adorable names. Plants have different symbolic meanings too, so do your research and try out different options. You still have plenty of time!

TO DO THIS WEEK
Painting the nursery
If you’re excited about bringing a nautical or woodland theme to life in your baby’s room, go ahead and do it. There’s no evidence to show that a small amount of house painting will harm you or the baby (though it could do a number on that already aching back!). Just avoid oil-based paints and paint strippers (which are sometimes used on furniture) as they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to birth defects and developmental disabilities with high exposure. Opt for low-VOC or VOC-free latex paints, open the windows to keep the room well ventilated and take frequent breaks. To be extra-cautious, you could ask your partner to wield the brush or hire a painting service and take over the decorating duties after the painting is finished.

While you’re thinking about reducing your exposure to chemicals (which is smart, by the way!), now is a good time to reassess the cleaning products in your home. Some chemicals found in household cleaners, such as bleach and ammonia, can be harmful. Switch to scrubs and sprays that are labelled eco-friendly or nontoxic, or make your own with vinegar and baking soda.

Read more:
Could taking antibiotics during pregnancy impact your child’s behaviour?
16 sweet mobiles for your baby’s nursery
Next up: 24 weeks pregnant

 

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